Phoenix Eyes and Other Stories

Russell Charles Leong

  • Published: 2000
  • Subject Listing: Asian American Studies; Literature / Fiction
  • Bibliographic information: 208 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Russell Charles Leong shows an astonishing range in this new collection of stories. From struggling war refugees to monks, intellectuals to sex workers, his characters are both linked and separated by their experiences as modern Asians and Asian Americans.

In styles ranging from naturalism to high-camp parody, Leong goes beneath stereotypes of immigrant and American-born Chinese, hustlers and academics, Buddhist priests and street people. Displacement and marginalization - and the search for love and liberation - are persistent themes. Leong's people are set apart, by sexuality, by war, by AIDS, by family dislocations. From this vantage point on the outskirts of conventional life, they often see clearly the accommodations we make with identity and with desire. A young teen-ager, sold into prostitution to finance her brothers' education, saves her hair trimmings to burn once a year in a temple ritual, the one part of her body that is under her own control. A documentary film producer, raised in a noisy Hong Kong family, marvels at the popular image of Asian Americans as a silenced minority. Traditional Chinese families struggle to come to terms with gay children and AIDS.
Russell Charles Leong , longtime editor of Amerasia Journal and managing editor of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center Publications, is also an award-winning poet and documentary filmmaker.

"Well-written and captivating, these stories cover a geography that spans hemispheres, and an emotional landscape that is wider still: life and death, desire and repulsion, freedom and humiliation, the body and the spirit. This is an important collection, not only for readers of Asian American work, but of world literature generally."
- Lisa Lowe, University of California, San Diego

"Migration may be the prominent theme in American literature; from place to place, from class to class, from race to race, and from gender to gender. Few have treated this theme as artistically as Russell Leong. His remarkable prose/poetry challenges media sterotypes so powerfully that many readers will conclude that his characters exist in a parallel universe. Yes, the Asian American Lexus drivers are here, but SSI recipients are included as well."
-Ishmael Reed

1) Bodhi Leaves
2) Geography One
3) Runaways
4) Daughers
5) Sons

6) A Yin and Her Man
7) Hemispheres
8) Camouflage
9) Eclipse
10) Samsara

11) The Western Paradise of Eddie Bin
12) Phoenix Eyes
13) No Bruce Lee
14) Where do People Live Who Never Die?


"A collection of startling and unsettling short stories that are mostly set in the landscape of contemporary California. Some of Leong's rich and evocative stories confront us with the horror of what might be played for cheap exoticism in less skillful hands..Other stories are more restrained, but Leong always shows us how memory and identity persist even in the melting pot of America..his acute powers of observation and his poet's gift for capturing the experience of transcendence are given full expression in the pages of Phoenix Eyes."
-Los Angeles Times